Managing Fever In Children - Health Education - DesiMD Healthcare - India
Health Education

Managing Fever In Children

Dr.Surya Rao Poodipeddi profile Authored by Dr.Surya Rao Poodipeddi on 4 Aug 2014 - 19:21.


Of all the conditions affecting an infant, fever is the most intriguing problem which baffles the mother when the child is running high temperature. Fever is an indication that the body is fighting against an infection. The baby’s natural defense mechanism organizes white blood cells which attack the offending intruder either virus or bacteria.

Identifying fever: The first attempt to find out if the child is running temperature is by touching the forehead which is however confirmed by a thermometer. Noting the exact temperature is important to take right course of action in controlling it. Most of the pediatricians agree that a normal body temperature for a healthy baby is between 97 and 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit (36 to 38 degrees Celsius). If your baby’s rectal temperature is over 100.4 degrees F, he has fever.

It is always better to call a pediatrician no matter what the temperature is, if you are too much worried. In any case, you must call the doctor if the child with fever is less than 3 months old because fever is more serious in babies less than three months. Even when there is high fever a child may be playful and taking feeds normally and therefore should not be a cause for alarm but certainly a reason to be cautious.

The normal pattern observed in respect of fever is that the temperature rises in the late afternoon and early evening and reduces between midnight and early mornings. The yardstick to remember when to call a pediatrician is when your baby is younger than 3 months and has a rectal temperature of 100.4 F or higher and older than 3 months with a temperature above 100.3 F

Symptoms: Besides fever, if you find the following symptoms are seen in your child, call the pediatrician, because they may be indicative of some serious problem within. Serious symptoms are:

  • Your baby has lost appetite and has little energy or you notice that he is pale or flushed along with other changes in his behavior and appearance.
  • Your baby has small purple red spots on his skin which don’t turn white when pressed or has large blotches, it is possible that they are indicative of an impending meningitis (an infection of the brain).
  • Your baby is unable to swallow and is drooling excessively which could be signs of epiglottitis a life threatening condition where the back of the throat is swollen.
  • Your child has difficulty in breathing even after clearing the blocked nose, which could mean that the child has pneumonia or Asthma.
  • Your baby seems delirious (keeps on taking), glassy-eyed or extremely cranky and irritable which could mean a serious viral or bacterial illness.

Possible infections: Another important rule to be more concerned is when you are uncomfortable with the baby’s appearance or behavior regardless of what the temperature is. Remember that fever is only one sign of a symptom complex of an illness. Diarrhea and vomiting accompanied by fever could mean a gastrointestinal problem and you should explain every single symptom or sign you notice in your child to the examining doctor to aid in proper evaluation for an accurate diagnosis.

If your baby is less than 3 months, your doctor might advise you to bring the child to his clinic to measure the exact temperature he has, and proceed with detailed examination in his attempts to rule out any major problem and act accordingly.

However, if your baby is older than 3 months your pediatrician may not call the child but try to exclude all other symptoms that might suggest a major problem and advise you to give a pediatric preparation of acetaminophen or brufen to bring down the temperature.

Since fever happens to be the first symptom of an illness the doctor may not find any significant findings if the baby is examined too early. He needs to observe the child at least after the first 24 hours. Your baby’s temperature will also rise if he gets a heat stroke. Heat stroke can attack a child if he has been playing in the hot sun or stuck in a car on a sweltering day with the windows up, to avoid the heat.

Whenever your baby is exposed to severe hot sun and you cannot reduce his temperature by removing the clothes or making him rest in a cool atmosphere take him to the emergency section of a hospital right away.

It is commonly believed that the body’s defense mechanism acts better in the presence of temperature. However, if the temperature is very high, the child will be very uncomfortable to eat, drink or sleep, which makes it worse and harder to get better. Giving him acetaminophen in consultation with your pediatrician might bring down the temperature and make him comfortable to drink and eat which in turn helps maintain proper hydration.

If the temperature is not very high and there is no evidence of any change in his behavior the best thing to do is to maintain his hydration. If the temperature is high a tepid sponge after removing all the clothing and running a fan will bring down the temperature. If the temperature is very high you may need to give the child a tepid bath to bring down the temperature.

Medication: Never ever give your child aspirin because it can make the child susceptible to Reye’s syndrome a rare but potentially dangerous condition.

Sometimes your child might develop febrile convulsions due to very high temperature. Try everything to reduce the temperature as fast as possible and seek the help of a pediatrician to rule out the possibility of any problem in the brain like epilepsy.

Whether the fever is due to a virus or bacteria it takes some time for the fever to come down. IT’s important to exercise caution.

*Disclaimer: This is not medical advice. The content is for educational purposes only. Please contact your doctor for any health care issues.